The duo behind the higly recommended label Alienor, French winemaker Denis Malbec and his Swedish wife Maj-Britt Malbec, also makes wine under the label Notre Vin (“our wine”). They don’t own any vineyards, instead they purchase all grapes for their wines.
The French heritage is a great asset here, and although the wines are truly American, the concentration and alcohol level is moderate, which is very much appreciated. Except for the Pinot Noir from Sonoma Coast, which I find to be a bit unfocused and lacking true intensity, I like the wines of Notre Vin more and more. They are fashioned in a very intelligent way and are very promising, the sad thing is that prices are too high.
2006 Cabernet Sauvignon Cuvée l’Etrier / 90-91 pThis is a cuvée of approximately 85 percent Cabernet Sauvignon and the rest Merlot and just a few percent Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc. Grapes are sourced from the La Herradura Vineyard in Conn Valley (just opposite of Anderson Conn Valley) at the foot of Howell Mountain. After three weeks of fermentation and maceration, the wine spent 18 months in new French oak and it was bottled without being fined or filtered. It’s still dark with a youthful purple color, a young and very intense nose driven by primaty fruit aromas, but in a very elegant way that although typical for its origin also offers a French touch. On the palate, the fruit is much sweeter with loads of cassis and blackberries, but there’s a very good acidity and fine still young tannins to hold the sweet flavors back. There’s a fine but not marked mineral structure to make the wine serious, and even though I find the taste very pleasant, it doesn’t have the vibrant enegery I look for, at least at the moment. It lacks a bit of middle palate and the slightly greenish oak bitterness in the aftertaste needs to integrate a bit more. However, I don’t worry too much – time will make justice to that. Drinking it today or within a few years from now, I’d serve it to braised meet, steaks or venison and using a creamy texture in the dish, both oak and tannins will be balanced in a perfect way.
Drink it 2013-2021.
2006 Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon / 92 pIn this case, the Cabernet Sauvignon proportion is higher (93 percent to be exact), and the rest is small amounts each of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot. All grapes are sourced from the Hughes Vineyard at over 500 meters elevation on the western side of Howell Mountain. Vinification would the same as for the wine above, and it was kept in new French oak barrels for 24 months. Again alcohol level is moderate, 13.8 percent. It offers a more elegant and although young more complex nose, where a stony minerality adds an interesting energy and also makes the taste more serious and structured. The acidity is quite fresh, lively and good, and evne though the fruit is lush, a bit sweetish and intense, the overall impression is that the wine is young and tight, but promising. The oakiness is tasted more in the finish of the aftertaste than in the actual taste, so oak integration is good. I’d like to keep this some more years for more complexity to evolve and for the rougher details to be polished. Then, I’m sure it will taste really good!
Drink it 2013-2021.